"Oh, we know you were here," a city official told me Monday, after I'd returned from my undercover mission to inventory theshlock and awe that is Denver's annual holiday display on the steps of City Hall
-- and then explain why, exactly, it's legal to have a Nativity scene at a a public facility.
Short answer: put out enough crap -- a Snowman, eight country-music-playing elves -- to balance out the figures in the Nativity, and the display becomes a celebration of the season, not a religious scene. And then there's Santa, of course, who these days apparently stands not just for crass commercialism but Big Brotherism: He knows when you've been sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows when you've been bad or good... or visiting City Hall.
Is there a SantaCam in the holiday display?
That's just another question that's going unanswered, along with these:
-- Where the hell did all these things come from? -- What are those alleged elves, who look like they're imitating the Country Bears? -- Can any citizen donate items for the display, to make it even more secular and celebratory?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
But after talking Tuesday with George Seviers, a city employee who used to oversee the display and retired in 2001, I have another question: What happened to the giant toy soldiers that used to stand guard at the bottom of the steps?
The soldiers were made in a city workshop, Seviers says, and were a longtime favorite of those coming to see the light display. Today, a couple of Christmas trees stand in their place.
Why were the soldiers withdrawn without an eighteen-month notice?
Maybe Santa knows.